We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Do you like Quindlen? I don’t know, I’ve never Quindled

Imagine life at the Quindlen household. Say they are pondering what to make for breakfast on a leisurely Sunday morning … someone suggests pancakes, while Anna retorts that “it is impossible to believe that anyone who does not want waffles has a proper sense of our place in history.” This is Anna Quindlen’s M.O. — she takes her own (often perfectly reasonable) prejudices / preferences on a given subject and elevates them to the level of an absolute moral imperative. Just as OxBlog proposes the four laws of Maureen Dowd, we can isolate the First Law of Quindlen: There is no need to provide evidence for my argument, because it is impossible to believe that you could disagree with me.

Anna thinks that we ought to turn the remains of the WTC site into an austere memorial instead of entertaining designs for new commercial real estate. “The demands of democracy should not be confused with those of capitalism,” she solemnly intones. And you didn’t even know that you were confused! Why the institute of democracy “demands” that this particular corner of southwest Manhattan remain eternally undeveloped, Ms. Quindlen never quite gets around to explaining, except by offering the official post-911 cliche: otherwise, the terrorists will have won.

Japan rebuilt Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The Germans rebuilt Dresden. The United States reconstructed Atlanta. (Which reminds me — wasn’t the Civil War, not Vietnam, the most corrosive war in US history? Or did US history begin on the day Anna Quindlen was born?) Why do we rebuild our war wounds? As the anti-Quindlen, Virginia Postrel, would put it, because we are a dynamic society, with the few stasists like Quindlen serving as the exceptions that prove the rule. Most of us do not believe that we have already achieved all the greatness we will ever claim. Or as Oscar Wilde said, “we’re all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with what Anna Quindlen is proposing, but there is something wrong with her insistence that her vision is the only one that passes muster from an ethical perspective. If she wants the space to remain vacant, then she ought to organize a consortium of like-minded individuals to purchase the vacant land, and leave it perfectly barren, or erect some weird new age memorial with nondenominational angels playing Enya music on their harps, or whatever floats her boat. Until she is willing to take such action, however, her opinion of what ought to go on the WTC site counts no more than mine, which is to say, not in the slightest.

Now, if Anna Quindlen really wanted to do something nice for Manhattan, I can think of about eight blocks of choice midtown real estate, right there on the East River, that developers would love to get their hands on. That’s right, the US could hand the United Nations an eviction notice and sell the property to the highest bidder. If, by even suggesting this, it proves that I have no sense of America’s place in history, well, I guess in Anna’s world I am already guilty as charged.

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